Finding the dividing line between rock ‘n’ roll and the musical forms it evolved from is, in the end, a fool’s errand. Elvis Presley’s 1954 cover of Roy Brown’s 1947 jump blues hit, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” is a good example.
Somewhere in those seven years something (or, more accurately, many things) have changed—in the music, in the arrangements, in the culture. From Elvis on forward, for better and for worse, there’s this new thing called rock ‘n’ roll.
If Billy Swan looks a little uncomfortable with the camera on him (not to mention a little—okay, a lot—out of place with the sparkly and scantily clad dancers of the long-running West German TV show, Star Parade), well, maybe that’s just what happens when a music industry lifer (songwriter, session musician, producer, at that time working out of Nashville) suddenly, almost inexplicably, has one big hit.
And “Let Me Help” was a big hit back in 1974. It topped Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop and Country charts in the US…as well as reaching #1 in at least a dozen additional countries. (To this day it’s still the 4th-best performing single of all time in Norway.)
It’s also one of the sweetest songs to top the charts. Swan’s narrator obviously has a huge crush on the woman he’s singing to. And Swan accomplishes the rare lyrical feat of making clear how bashful and uncomfortable with words and emotions his character is…while writing beautiful lyrics that make it perfectly clear just how he feels.
It would sure do me good to do you good, let me help.
For a big chunk of the Christian world, today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for Easter.
That’s not what Lubbock, Texas native Delbert McClinton is singing about in “Giving It Up For Your Love”—a delightful early 1980s blast of reggae-tinged country soul music*.
But then again, it’s not totally unconnected either.
*Right now there’s somebody thinking, “I didn’t know there was such a thing as reggae-tinged country soul music”. Yes, children; it’s a big, wide, wonderful world.
From the Bad Pun Division of the Humor Department here at MassCommons World Headquarters comes a reminder that today is the only day of the year that’s also a command (March 4th/march forth, get it?).
Fulfilling this blog’s First Rule of Cover Songs (you’ve got to bring something new to it), check out the 160 foot tall MJ moonwalking to “Billie Jean” (at 4:45) and doing the splits at the end of “The Way You Make Me Feel” (at 5:51), as well as the OSU Gospel Voices joining in on “Man In The Mirror” (at 7:55).
*The Best Damn Band In The Land
Grantland (owned by ESPN, owned by The Mouse) has a terrific article by Jordan Conn about the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team. You know, the team that’s won 9 of the last 11 national championships, just had its 55 game winning streak ended by the Ottawa Gee-Gees, and regularly upsets American NCAA Division 1 opponents?
But then, that’s not news to regular readers of MassCommons.
It’s hard to think of a band that’s played fewer notes and gotten more people moving than Booker T & the MGs.
Exhibit #1 this Monday morning is “Hip Hug Her”, the title track off their 1967 album.
See what I mean?
Sean Meenan does a very nice job here leading Kenneth Louis’ setting of Psalm 96, “Proclaim God’s Marvelous Deeds”.
Now imagine it performed by a gospel choir accompanied by two keyboards and a full rhythm section. (And if you find video of it, let me know.)